Wie's Solheim spark

By Randall MellSeptember 21, 2011, 4:43 pm

DUNSANY, Ireland – Something about the Solheim Cup transformed Michelle Wie.

She blossomed as a pro in her debut for the Americans two years ago.

She was as good as anyone has ever seen her while helping the Americans beat Europe at Rich Harvest Farms.

In three dizzying days, she looked determined to fulfill all the potential her performance had hinted at over the years.

Over those 72 hours, Wie was literally unbeatable.

A controversial captain’s pick by Beth Daniel, Wie roared through the event with a 3-0-1 record.

“I was so happy when I did well in my first Solheim Cup,” Wie said. “It was a really, truly amazing experience. I’ve never felt so much support.”

It was as if Wie found something that week that she had lost. She rediscovered the hope, promise and confidence that were going to make her the game’s next big star. You could see it in a suddenly revitalized putting stroke, or you could just look at the fire in her eyes.

“Anybody that has said Michelle Wie can’t play under pressure, I think they were proven wrong,” Daniel said after Wie won back-to-back Saturday matches at Rich Harvest Farms. “She was walking on air. She just hit great shot after great shot.”

Can Wie, 21, conjure the magic again this week?

Wie’s first Solheim Cup performance filtered into her game when she returned to the LPGA in the fall of ’09. She broke through to win her first LPGA title at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Wie won again last year, but she’s looking for her first victory this year. She finished second at the CN Canadian Women’s Open a month ago, but it was her only top-10 finish in her last eight starts. She’s still working to find her putting stroke with a new belly putter she put in her bag this summer.

Back in ’09, Wie’s putter got hot at the Solheim Cup after a visit with putting guru Dave Stockton. She’ll be looking to heat it up again at Killeen Castle, where the greens can befuddle.

Wie’s performance at Rich Harvest Farms was memorable, but so was what happened behind the scenes. It was the first time as a pro she felt comfortable dropping her guard. Escaping the cocoon that had been designed to protect her as a teenage prodigy, she connected on a meaningful personal level with fellow LPGA pros.

“I think it’s where she really got to become friends with Morgan Pressel,” said David Leadbetter, Wie’s swing coach.

Away from her parents that week, away from the entourage built to guide a young star, Wie got to show other players a side of herself they had never seen. Pressel remembers bolting out of the team quarters one evening before the competition started.

“Michelle brings out her laptop computer onto the practice putting green, and she’s got the music blaring,” Pressel said. “We’re out there dressed inappropriately for golf. We are in blue jeans and sweat pants, and we’re all dancing on the green. We had this crazy putting contest and just having fun.”

Something about the team atmosphere helped push Wie’s confidence to another level.

“I think there’s something about match play that brings out the best in Michelle, but what happened with the team was extremely important for her,” Leadbetter said. “She sort of had, I don’t want to say a wall around her, but it was a wall to a certain extent, for obvious and understandable reasons. She was young. She was special. She had all these sponsorships, and because of all of that, she was looked at differently. But she really got into the team environment. I think it was one of those times she could really express herself, with no outside pressures. She made so many friendships that week that have meant a lot to her.”

Wie didn’t even mind letting players who are fierce rivals every other week see her flaws.

“Out on tour, it can be so serious, where you are trying to show your game faces to each other, but it’s different in the team room at the Solheim Cup,” Wie said. “They got to see how I’m always falling, or running into something, or saying something stupid.

“With 150 women out on tour, you can’t get to know everyone. At the Solheim Cup, it’s different. There are only 12 of us, and we are together all the time. We eat together, sleep together, hold each other’s hands. Before I got to my first Solheim Cup, I knew all of the other players, and I respected them, but I didn’t really know them personally. At the Solheim Cup, you really get to know each other, and you get to know each other beyond golf.”

Wie’s looking for that atmosphere to light another spark in her game.

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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.